Pabst; Rimsky-Korsakov; Scriabin Piano Concertos

Thrills, spills and acrobatics – just what you want in a Romantic concerto

Author: 
Jeremy Nicholas

Pabst; Rimsky-Korsakov; Scriabin Piano Concertos

  • Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
  • Concerto for Piano and Orchestra
  • Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

Danacord has stolen a march on Hyperion’s Romantic Concerto series with the first complete studio recording of the Pabst concerto, one of those “legendary” works one reads about in the literature but never hears. Virtually forgotten since its Moscow premiere in 1882 (it was revived there in 2003 by Olga Bobrovikova and appeared on a Cameo Classics disc last year – 8/07), it turns out to be a real humdinger.

Probably best remembered for his bravura Paraphrase on Themes from Eugene Onegin, Pavel (or Paul) Pabst (1854‑97) studied with Brahms’s friend Anton Door (to whom the concerto is dedicated) and Liszt. Cast in the usual three movements and in the heroic key of E flat, the concerto might boast more than its fair share of clichés and rhetorical gestures, but why shouldn’t the concert hall be home to thrills, spills and daredevil acrobatics? Oleg Marshev and the Jutland forces play it to the hilt in a performance that has all the hallmarks of a live performance. Who could fail to respond to the exuberant high spirits of the finale?

I’ve always thought that Rimsky’s single-movement piano concerto with its chocolate-box Russian themes was a rather half-hearted affair, but it provides a pleasant interlude before the youthful ardour of Scriabin’s early (1896) F sharp minor Concerto. Here, as throughout, the recording team imported from Deutsche Grammophon rightly gives the spotlight to Marshev, the sublime secondary subject of the last movement played with unusual intensity. In brief, those who, like me, are suckers for Romantic concertos with soaring themes and solo parts of coruscating virtuosity will not be disappointed.

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